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An Open Letter to Future Me

Dear Future Me,

Future Me

Today Me

I hope all is well with you.

Things are just dandy here. But, of course, you already knew that.

I know you’re busy with book-signing tours, television interviews, and counting your piles of money, so I won’t take up too much of your time. But I wanted to talk to you about something…

Now that the kids are all grown up and the nest is empty, so to speak, you may be thinking wistfully of the past. You’ve probably even been longing for the days when the kids were much younger. After all, like you keep telling yourself, those were the best days of your life.

Heck, I bet you’ve even turned into one of those people who go around telling parents of young children how “It all goes so fast!” and to “Enjoy this time because, before you know it they’ll be all grown up.”

Since your then is my now, and since your memory has been clouded by years of drinking too much cheap Cabernet, let me clarify something about the past: It wasn’t as great as you remember.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love my (your) kids more than anything in the world, as we both know, and I think that they are so incredibly cute and fun at this age. Get this: They actually enjoy being around me, and they still think I know everything. Ha! Remember those days? Probably not. Again, the Cabernet.

But over the years your aging brain has played a trick on you. It has allowed you to forget just how mentally and physically exhausted you were during this time of your life. Believe me—you’re pooped.

Oh, com’on, you say, I wasn’t that tired.

Yes, Future Me. Yes you were.

Unless I’m at the office or asleep or asleep at the office, every second of my (your) life revolves around those little buggers. I’m constantly dressing them, undressing them, bathing them, feeding them, begging them to eat something—anything, putting them in Timeout every five seconds; picking toys off the floor in the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedroom, the front yard, the back yard, the neighbor’s yard; packing a bag of toys to keep them busy at the restaurant, picking toys up off of the floor at the restaurant, cleaning up the mess on the floor at the restaurant, telling him not to eat that piece of food on the floor at the restaurant, buckling them into their car seats, taking them out of their car seats, telling her to stop teasing him, telling him to stop hitting her, brushing her hair, brushing his teeth, wiping their noses, wiping their…well, you know, reading them a book, reading them another book, putting them to bed, taking them out of bed to go to the potty, putting them back in bed, coming back upstairs to get them a drink of water…and so many other things that I can’t think of right now because, frankly, I’m just too tired.

And lest you forget, Future Me, your only real free time was after they finally went to bed. By that time you were so beat that it was a struggle just to stay up past 9 o’clock. And “free” is a misnomer, because you were actually trapped in the house until you left for work the next morning, when it all started over again.

But I bet you don’t remember any of that, do you? You only remember the really good parts, like playing tents or hide-and-seek in the living room, secretly listening to her play school with her stuffed animals, watching him play with your old Matchbox cars, giving them horsey rides around the living room, pushing him on the swing at the park, pretending to eat the pretend cake she made you in the sandbox, hearing them say “DADDY!” as they raced to hug you when you got home from work, holding hands with her as you skipped down the sidewalk, pushing him in his stroller as he pointed out the squirrels, hearing them laugh as you tickled them in their car seats, listening to them sing along to the radio in the back of the car, bouncing him on your shoulders as you walked up-street for ice cream, reading them bedtime stories as they clutched their blankies, holding him close before placing him in his crib for the night, kissing her goodnight as you tucked her in to bed…

You know what, Future Me? Maybe you’re right after all. This really is a wonderful time. Maybe the best.

Forget all that stuff I said about how hard things were. (Oh, that’s right…you already did.)

I’ll check back in when they’re teenagers. Hopefully we made it through alive.

Take care,

Past You

PS: College wasn’t that great either. (Yeah it was.)

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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Battle of Dinnertime

“More thoy thauce, peas!” yells my son, the salty brown liquid running down his chin and dripping onto his plastic bib. Just moments before, he put the tiny dish of soy sauce up to his mouth and slurped it down as if it was leftover milk in a bowl of cereal. We had given it to him to use as dip for his stew – yes, stew – which he was refusing to eat. A bizarre combination of food and condiment, for sure, but it worked. And to us, that’s all that matters.

I used to look forward to dinnertime. It was a time to relax after a long day at work; a time to converse with my wife over a delicious meal. We’d eat slowly, savoring every bite as we talked about our day. Afterward, we’d enjoy a hot cup of coffee and maybe even some dessert.

Those days are long gone.

Now, from the moment I secure my son in his high chair and connect the Velcro ends of his bib strap, I can feel the anxiety rising within my chest. That’s because I know what’s coming. And it’s not going to be pretty.

Here’s a typical dinnertime for us:

After I set the table and get the kids in their seats, my wife brings out the meal, which she has so kindly prepared for us after putting in a long day of work herself. My ever-ravenous son squeals with excitement, while my daughter looks on, warily. Then my wife places the meal on the table, at which point my son’s squeals intensify. My daughter, on the other hand, inevitably falls back into her chair with disappointment, since the meal isn’t chocolate cake or ice cream. I blow on my son’s portion to cool it off, which makes me light-headed and nauseous. Then, when I place his food on his tray, his squealing stops as his appetite suddenly disappears. “NO LIKE IT!” he says, as he shoves the bowl precariously close to the edge. Realizing that the fuse has been lit, my wife and I quickly say grace and begin to fill our plates. I inhale my meal in a matter of seconds, fully expecting my son’s sippy cup to come flying at my temple at any moment. Between bites my wife wrangles with my daughter over exactly how much she has to eat before she can be excused. Ten minutes later I’m already in the kitchen cleaning up, i.e., escaping, as my wailing son throws his milk and thrashes around in his high chair. Meanwhile my wife is still trapped in a heated debate with a four-year-old.

So when we discovered by accident one day that giving my son soy sauce would entice him to eat, and, in turn, enable us to do the same, we didn’t ask questions. Soy sauce on pizza? Sure! For your spaghetti? Why not!

As for my daughter, at first she refuses to eat at all. Then, when she realizes her protest is cutting into her play time, she begins to bargain with us. “I know,” she says, “how about I eat three more bites, then I can be done?” We then submit a counter offer of five. “THREE!” she shoots back, sticking to her guns. This goes on and on until finally we give in, exhausted and browbeaten by a preschooler.

The Number of Bites method is just one of my daughter’s ways of getting out of eating. Sometimes she’s struck with a sudden stomachache, which inexplicably disappears once we mention we have ice cream for dessert. Other times she claims she’s “just not hungry,” even though she hasn’t eaten in three days. Most of the time, though, she just whines and cries until my wife and I, weary and desperate for a peaceful meal, admit defeat.

Of course, when it’s time to put her to bed, my daughter’s appetite miraculously reappears and she begs us for crackers or a bowl of cereal—anything to postpone going to sleep.

It’s not fair. When you’re a kid, you can eat and sleep as much as you want to, but you don’t want to. When you’re an adult, all you want to do is eat and sleep, but you can’t.

Somewhere up there God’s have a good laugh at our expense.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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